CONTROVERSIAL plans to build houses at the Cold Stores Site in Llantarnam have been given the go-ahead by a Welsh Government inspector.

The appeal was made by Barratt Homes to the Welsh Government after Torfaen council refused the application in March.

The application is for the demolition of the existing cold store building and remainder of Nissan hut structures, and the erection of 48 houses.

The main objection put forward regarded loss of woodland.

Fifteen residents from Llantarnam Road and St Joseph’s Meadow objected to the initial application and a petition containing 145 signatures opposing the application was submitted to Torfaen council.

The inspector, Alwyn Nixon, concluded that while there would be some loss of woodland, this would be adequately compensated by a combination of enhancement of retained woodland and areas of trees, new tree and woodland planting within the site and contribution towards off-site woodland improvement.

Llantarnam ward councillor David Daniels said: “I’m incredibly disappointed by the decision. Throughout the whole process, I have maintained the loss of a significant area of the woodland would negatively impact not only on the visual amenity of the area, but the biodiversity which the woodland sustains.

“I’m still at a loss to understand why 60 per cent of the woodland needs to be destroyed for development on the Cold Stores site to go forward. I will now seek to ensure that any negative impact on residents is limited.”

Barratt Homes’ first application, to build 55 homes at the site, was rejected by the planning committee in August 2012. The second, for 48 homes, was also rejected. Councillors claimed it would result in the loss of an important area of natural urban woodland which also acts as a significant buffer between residential and industrial uses.